Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Kentucky Classic #2: Kentucky Wildflower for Caroline Amelia Moore


Kentucky Classic #2: Kentucky Wildflower
 for Caroline Amelia Moore
by Elsie Ridgley

The individual design units here, the conventional rose and simple leaves are planted in an absurdly small vase...something rather characteristic of these Garrard County quilts. We can see the design as a metaphor for Carry Moore Nation, a Garrard County native.

Attributed to Lucy Kemper West of Garrard County
DAR Museum
Overgrown plants in need of repotting are a Kentucky Classic theme

Caroline Moore Floyd Nation (1846-1911)
at 28 when she married for a second time in 1874.

Carrie Amelia Moore was born to George & Mary Campbell Moore in 1846 on their farm west of Bryantsville in Garrard County.

The cliffs at Dick's (Dix) River

Carry remembered the enslaved people on their Kentucky farm; Betsy, Mary, Judy and Eliza were the matriarchs.

1850 census showing mother Mary Jane at 26 with 7 children including 3-year-old Caroline.

Mary Jane James Campbell Moore (1824-1893).
Perhaps Edna on the left and Carrie on the right in the 1850s.
Mary gave birth to her last child in 1861 in Missouri.

George Moore (1815-1883)
Irish-born George Moore seems to have been rather restless, taking the family to other farms in Kentucky and moving them to Missouri in 1855 when Carry was 9. 

The Moore's home in Cass County, Missouri

Portal to Texas History 
Dr. Charles Gloyd (1840-1869)

After the Civil War Carry married Dr. Charles Gloyd a veteran of the 118th Ohio Volunteer Infantry  when she was in her early 20s. Traumatized by the war Gloyd was an alcoholic. Carry, pregnant with her only child Charlien, left him and Charles died within a year. His alcoholism prompted her to become the tavern keepers' foe thirty years later when she was known for smashing saloons.

Kansas Museum of History
Carry in jail in Topeka with a nine-patch quilt on the bed.

She began her hatcheting career in 1900 in her mid fifties, after the failure of her second marriage to David Nation. She traveled the country to make speeches and chop up bars and other furniture with her signature ax. 

Kansas Museum of History Collection

She was often jailed. Being an expert at calling attention to herself and her crusade she was frequently in the national papers in the first decade of the 20th century. Her ten years of notoriety ended when a nervous breakdown caused her hospitalization at the Evergreen Sanitarium in Leavenworth, Kansas.

She died there at 66 in 1911.

Unfortunately sanitariums were familiar territory to the Moores. Carry's mother Mary died in the mental hospital in Nevada, Missouri and her brothers Charles and Campbell are also buried in the hospital's cemetery. Carry's daughter Charlien Gloyd McNabb died in an asylum in Texas in 1929.

The Nevada Hospital for the Insane was the largest building in
Missouri for a time.

Women patients on an outing

Carry Moore Nation may have been technically insane, affected with a hereditary schizophrenia, psychosis or perhaps early-onset dementia. She was certainly eccentric. This Kentucky Wildflower remains one of Garrard County's most famous natives.

A little fancy cutting from Becky Brown

The Block

45" Square
No medallion set this month---here's the side-by-side set 
for nine 14/15-inch finished blocks. Look for the Beckys' progress in May.

Read Carry's surprisingly readable autobiography The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, published in 1904.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Message in a Civil War Spool of Thread


The Huntington Library has an interesting item in their collection:
A wooden spool of thread (looks like a Coats & Clark's spool.)
Inside the hole is a coiled piece of paper.

The curators and staff unfurled it in this video:

(Those white cords are like small book snakes to gently hold the note in place)

Some time ago the message was typed.
It's some kind of military order---issued before the Civil War began
in April, but probably having to do with the future Confederates gathering their
assets in the face of Union threats to confiscate them.

General David E. Twiggs (1790-1862),
commander of the U.S. Army's Dept. of Texas.
After surrendering his army and armaments to the secessionists
he was dismissed from the army as a traitor.

William Augustus Nichols (1818-1869) during the 
Mexican War of the 1840s
During the Civil War he served under Union Generals Sherman & Sheridan

Major W.A. Nichols was aware of Twiggs's plans and seems to have had other ideas. The message in the spool appears to be an attempt to foil Twiggs's plot. Perhaps the spool was passed by Nichols's wife Clara DeRussey Nichols. Or perhaps the message was never read---why is it still coiled in the spool?

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Washington Whirlwind #4: Next Door Neighbor


Washington Whirlwind #4: Next Door Neighbor by Becky Collis

We've been looking at the Lincoln White House from the view of the Taft family who lived close by. Julia recalled cutting through the grounds on her walk to school. The official gardener welcomed her shortcut through an unlocked gate. 

It seems a little hard to believe now but the grounds and building were open to the public. In the theory that the mansion was the "people's house" anyone could walk in day or night as they wished, too many picking up knick-knacks and cutting swatches out of the drapes for souvenirs.

The "President's House" is below the purple star 
in the "President's Park."in this 1861 map from Margaret Leech's
Reveille in Washington. (See more below.)

Julia Taft Bayne (1845-1933)
She was in her mid-teens when she met the Lincolns.

When her younger brothers were invited to play with the Lincoln children Julia was encouraged to accompany them, perhaps to do some supervising. She enjoyed the visits, remembering how the Lincoln library was full of novels, reading material forbidden at home by her mother Mary Cook Taft. While the boys disrupted cabinet meetings with drums and horns Julia spent time chatting with Mary Todd Lincoln, whose kind company she appreciated. 

The President also encountered Julia in the library or parlor.
" I was sitting on the sofa with some silk and velvet pieces on my lap, out of which I was trying to make a pin-cushion. The President came into the room. I rose at once, my pieces falling on the floor. When the President went out, I picked them up and was just getting them sorted out again when he came in the second time. True to my training, I again rose and the silk once more scattered to the floor.
‘You needn’t get up, Julia, every time Abram comes in the room,’ said Mrs. Lincoln.
‘Why, Julie,’ said the President, noticing my silk pieces on the floor, ‘that’s too bad.’ Before I knew what he was about, he had knelt on the floor and was picking up the pieces of silk for me."

In her memoir Julia recalled attending Madame Smith's French School (west of the White House in the current map here) during the Civil War years but a little fact checking reveals that Madame Smith's school was closed by the time Julia joined her family in Washington. Her father's diary mentioned that the empty Smith school was housing soldiers and Julia had begun schooling with a Miss Douglas on H Street as the war began.

National Museum of American History
Dress worn by Mary Todd Lincoln
Purple was a favorite color of the First Lady and
other fashionable women at the time.

In the 1850s Englishman William Perkin invented a colorfast aniline purple dye for silk and wool that revolutionized the textile industry. He named the purple Mauve. Other chemists developed Fuschia, Solferino and Magenta, the last two names commemorating European battles waged by French Emperor Napoleon III, whose wife Eugenie often wore the new shades. 

Empress Eugenie of France (1826-1920)
by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Mary Lincoln considered herself the American version of the Empress and directed her seamstresses to copy Eugenie's style. Julia Taft remembered that Mary Todd Lincoln was wearing "lilac organdy" when they met. 

Next Door Neighbor by Becky Brown

Despite her mother's conservative nature and refusal to wear a crinoline (an "abiding grievance" to Julia) Mrs. Taft also liked the new purples and bought a particularly elegant bonnet at Willian's on Pennsylvania Avenue. 


Her ensemble of bonnet with purple ribbons, a purple and white silk gown and lavender kid gloves attracted Mary Lincoln's attention, but rather than complimenting Mary Taft on her taste Mary Lincoln demanded the ribbons. Willian's was out of that particular "riband" (as they termed them) and the First Lady wanted some. Julia overheard her mother discussing the request. "I suppose I'll have to let her have it and it's provoking, for I really did like this bonnet."

Next Door Neighbor by Denniele Bohannon

William Howard Russell, British correspondent for the London Times, attended the theatre in November,1861 noting the first lady's attire in his diary: "Mrs. Lincoln in an awful bonnet."
The next day he hadn't recovered, recalling her as "the most preposterous looking female I ever saw."

The fashion for purple in wartime Washington may inspire color choices for your Next Door Neighbor block.

The Block

At the end of the 19th century the Ladies Art Company was calling this block of triangles
Next Door Neighbor.

Next Door Neighbor by Jeanne Arnieri

Further Reading

Margaret Leech (Pulitzer) won a Pulitzer Prize for history with her 1941 book in which the District of Columbia is the lead character. It's a great read 80 years later---just wish someone had said: "Peggy! Footnotes, please."
Extensive preview:

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Mary Smith's Sad Tale


Caroline Healey Dall tells us one more tale of the heartbreak of slavery in her diary in December, 1842.
Caroline from Massachusetts had taken a position as Assistant Principal at Miss Lydia English's Female Seminary in Washington City, a Southern town that permitted slavery, an economic cruelty Miss English embraced.

Massachusetts Historical Society
Caroline Healey (later Dall) (1822-1812)
About the time she took a teaching position in Washington due to family financial troubles.

Caroline, always self-confident, broke many Washington rules, teaching one of the enslaved servants at the school to read and helping another write a difficult letter. Caroline tried opening a sewing school for free Black women but found no place that would host it.

A sympathetic New Englander must have been a welcome
staff member for the enslaved servants. Lydia S. English was
enough of a believer in slavery and secession that her
school was confiscated for a Union hospital when the Civil War broke out.

Miss English's school building still stands although
its last "restoration" as the Colonial Apartments in 1953 is a bit dated.

One evening servant 18-year-old Mary Smith knocked at the teacher's door asking her to write a letter. Caroline prepared to take dictation but Mary did not know how to compose a letter. She told Caroline her tale and between them they wrote an eloquent refusal of marriage to a suitor James.

Eastman Johnson's 1859 glimpse of a courtship
in a Washington courtyard.

They addressed the letter:

And that is all we know. We can't follow up on Mary Smith, her name is too common, and James Everinboro' (might be Everingborough) is a name that doesn't seem to exist in either form.

 This may be Mary listed at 27 eight years later in the 
1850 Slave Schedule under L. English's name. 
The census's Slave Schedule did not list slaves' names.

Miss English's Female Seminary occupied as a Union hospital
during the Civil War.

Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-century 
Woman, edited by Helen Deese

See Mary's story by clicking here on the preview of Caroline Healey Dall's published diary:

Mary's story part 1